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Panama 35 Day 2014

Hello!

It has been a restful couple of days for us here at the Casa Blanca in Panama City. Today, we were able to take the morning off to relax, catch up on journaling, and spend time with the Lord. After lunch, we had an afternoon of extended teaching, as we learned more about how to walk as men and women of God.

This evening, we took the new subway system here in the City to the Albrook Mall for dinner. This mall is gigantic, with over 800 stores, at least 3 food courts, an attached bus station, movie theater, bowling alley, and airport! The students had the opportunity here to purchase food they may have been missing from home, like Taco Bell, KFC, or Subway. Some, however, took the opportunity to try some restaurants, like PioPio, that are mainly found here in Central and South America. This was a fun and exciting way for the team to relax and experience some of the way of life here in Panama City.

Truly it was fun to visit the mall this evening and relax this morning. But most importantly, today was crucial because of the things we learned and the ways we have continued to grow together as a team. Today, we also took some time to share how we each best give and receive love, whether it is through time, touch, words of affirmation, gifts, or acts of service. This information, along with the other teachings received this afternoon, will draw the team together and help us to walk in power, love, and unity.

Please pray for us as we travel to El Cope tomorrow. We leave very early tomorrow morning, and will arrive in the early afternoon. Ministry in Cope will be exciting, no doubt, as we travel to neighboring towns in the mountains to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Also, continue to pray for sustained good health, and encouraged and positive attitudes as we prepare to return to drama ministry.

With all our love,

Craig and Karissa

Good Evening!

Today has been an eventful Sunday! We woke up this morning with the opportunity to worship at La Communidad Bible Church, where our contact Luciano is the Missions Pastor. It is always so good to worship across cultures with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This morning was especially rewarding because one of our students met a man there who she had led to the Lord just a week and a half ago on Cinco de Mayo in Panama City! After talking with our student that day, he began to attend La Communidad, and has been there for two weeks now. We do not often get to see such evident fruit of our labors, but it is good to be reminded that those with whom we share the gospel are disciple faithfully.

After the morning service, the team was able to spend some time this afternoon prayer-walking on Cinco de Mayo. We know that faithful prayers pave the way for effective ministry. We pray that the Spirit of God be at work on that crowded street, so that the next team that does ministry there, whether it is us or another, experiences an overwhelming response to the gospel.
Tomorrow, we have a day of rest. The students have been working very hard in the San Blas Island area this past week, and we have a tough week of ministry ahead of us in Cope as well. The Lord has used us, and we trust Him to continue to do so. Please pray that tomorrow is a rejuvenating time for all of us, and that we are recharged physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We appreciate your prayers more than we can say!

With love,

Craig and Karissa

Good afternoon faithful readers!

We have made it safely back to Panama City! The students are resting and recuperating after a long morning’s travel. We left at seven this morning in a boat and sailed along for forty-five minutes. Then we rode in SUVs for three hours to arrive back at the Casa Blanca. We have a couple days of rest and light ministry here as we prepare to head out again to Cope on Tuesday!

As you pray, remember to ask the Lord for a restful time for us, continued good health, and spiritual rejuvenation before Cope!

Also, don’t forget to check out the pictures we have finally updated from our time on San Blas Islands!

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

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Dear Friends and Family,

The team has been loving life on the islands. We had such a full and sweet day of ministry yesterday! We were able to travel to three other islands by boat and there proclaim the Gospel. At the first island, we were able to perform the drama twice. Our contact informed us that this island had no church and virtually no trace of Christianity. The entire team could feel the weight of the darkness that consumed that island. But in the presence of Christ, darkness must flee. Several Kunas came to know the Lord and for that we are still rejoicing!

After another 20-minute boat ride, we arrived at “Little Orange” island. One ministry team was used by the Lord to intercede for a little boy named Mariano. Mariano is a 4-year-old boy whose stomach is extremely swollen due to his inability to use the bathroom for over 20 days. The family of this little boy, along with much of the village, hold fast to their belief in idols. They will not take him to a doctor because they believe it would demonstrate a lack of faith. The students were able to pray for physical healing for Mariano and for spiritual healing throughout the island. Though we had to leave, we know the Lord did not. We believe and trust that He will be faithful to work and bring people unto Him. Please pray for the strongholds of these idols to be broken, and for the people to see Christ clearly.

Today, the team was able to spend some time together on the beach of another island, enjoying the waves and sand. Afterwards, we were able to wrap up our time on the island with another service with the local church. As always, it is so good to worship alongside our brothers and sisters, and all the children, singing in Spanish, in English, and in Kuna.

We also encourage you, as you pray, to pray for us to have safe travels back to the mainland tomorrow. Pray for continued good health, good attitudes, and excited hearts as we continue ministry in Panama City.

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

Good afternoon!

We have had an eventful time since we last updated. The team is growing in unity and knowledge of the power and glory of God each day. We are growing to know one another more, and consequently, we know better how to love and serve one another.

Two nights ago, we had the opportunity to again worship alongside the Pallabra de Vida church family. It was such a blessing to worship next to our brothers and sisters in Christ, simultaneously singing in Kuna, Spanish, and English. This worship is a picture of God’s heavenly Kingdom, where people from every tongue will sing praises to God.

In addition to worshiping with the church, we were able to assist them in a great way yesterday. Our men worked and sweated next to the men of the church as we poured concrete to extend the floor of the church. Likewise, our women went to teach English in the school on the island. Both of these opportunities were far different than the drama ministry we are used to, but they greatly facilitate our ability to build relationships with the people of the island. That day’s ministry also served to remind us that God’s family always seeks to help other members of God’s family, regardless of what language and cultural barriers stand in the way.

Be on the lookout in the next couple days as we finish our time on the island for stories from the four islands we will visit today, as well as the youth event we will host tomorrow! We are happy to update you on all that the Lord is doing while on the island, and we especially look forward to being able to post pictures of the beautiful ministry taking place. We will post these pictures at the first opportunity once we return to Panama City.

Finally, we love, appreciate, and need your prayers. As you pray for us, you are as much a part of the ministry occurring in Panama as we are. Please pray for enduring spirits as we work hard in the long and hot days of Panama. Pray that the blessing of good health continues. And ask the Lord of the harvest that He continue to work in and through us to bring people into relationship with Him.

With much love,

Craig and Karissa

Good morning readers!

We are excited to bring you an update from the San Blas islands, where the Kuna tribes live. It has been very difficult to get adequate Internet access here. We traveled here a couple days ago via boat. For many of us, it was the first time to be out on the ocean. It was a beautiful journey from the mainland to the islands. After setting up in our hut (hammocks and all), we had the opportunity to worship with the church on the island, Palabra de Vide, or Word of Life Church. We sang two songs with them, one of our students shared her story, and then we performed the drama. Not only did the church come, but many other families from on the island as well. Ministry is more difficult here because many of the natives speak Kuna instead of Spanish, so we are working through two language barriers. But the hand of God cannot be stayed, and He is moving in our weakness.

For our first ministry site, we traveled by boat to a nearby island. Here, we were able to present the gospel to the children during their school day as well as to parents who listened in. As the groups dispersed to minister to the Kuna people, one group went to a traditionally-dressed Kuna matriarch. They approached the woman, who was dressed in a traditional Kuna skirt and wearing many many bracelets. It did not take them long to realize that she did not speak Spanish, but only Kuna, making it impossible for them to share the gospel with her without an additional translator. But what is impossible with man is possible with God. As the translator spoke in Spanish to the Kuna elder, God opened her ears and her heart to hear His truth, and she turned from her sins to trust in Him for salvation. Praise the Lord!

As we came to the end of the day, we were able to travel to our third island of the day. This island serves as the center for the Kuna Island government, and is the capital of all the islands. Very few people live on this island. In fact, we presented the drama to only a handful of police officers and a single Kuna family. Though no one came to know the Lord on this island, we are confident that seeds were planted, and God will be faithful to nurture those seeds to fruition. And we cannot be discouraged, for Pastor Luciano soon informed us that the island had a strong Catholic presence, so strong that no evangelical group has ever been allowed to visit and share the Gospel. We are encouraged to know that God is using us to work in places where the Gospel has never been before.

Due to limited Internet access on the islands, we will attempt to update daily if possible, but we will be unable to upload pictures until we return to the mainland. In the meantime, take our word that it is beautiful here; the Lord is working; and you can expect a flood of pictures in a few short days.

Finally, as always, we ask that you continue to pray for our good health, for energy to enthusiastically share the Gospel throughout these long days, and for open hearts here in the islands of the Kuna people.

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

 

Buenos Noches!

We have had yet another exciting day of ministry! We had the opportunity to perform the drama four times in three different districts of Panama City over the course of the day. And as much as we were able to share the Gospel with lost people, we were also able to encourage and edify the hearts of the people from the churches where we were working. The evangelism we do in an afternoon pales in comparison to the discipleship they do day in and day out.

Before performing at our first drama site, the students walked throughout the neighborhood to invite all the families to the neighborhood park. This was a great opportunity for the students to interact with the culture and maybe even learn some Spanish. By the time we began the drama, there was a substantial crowd of children gathered around. Not only did they stay to watch, but as we began to set up for a second drama in the same park, the children ran off to invite all their friends who missed the first one! It was encouraging to see the Lord work through these children and their eagerness to spread to others what we had shared with them.

Before performing the drama in the second district, the chance arose to worship together with the local church. Though we could not understand the words they sang, their hearts to worship the Lord were so evident. As they shouted, danced, and sang praises to God, we were all strengthened as the unified body of Christ. We know that we were able to encourage this church as well, because a prominent and elderly member of their church had just passed away this morning. We were able to pray for them in their loss, and they thanked us for showing them how the Lord was working through us. Needless to say, we were all very encouraged.

As the students were out ministering, many of the people they spoke with were fellow believers that were members of the church we visited. One group spoke with several sisters in Christ and then had the opportunity to pray over them and their ministry. After they finished praying, one of the ladies confessed that she had not been living her life in the way a follower of Christ should be. She told them she was very challenged and encouraged by their prayers and boldness in the Gospel. What a powerful reminder that not only the lost need to hear the Gospel, but also our ever-wandering hearts!

Finally, we will begin a long trek early tomorrow morning to the San Blas islands, where several Kuna tribes reside. We are ecstatic to bring the good news to this beautiful part of Panama. Please pray for safe travels tomorrow, as well as restful sleep, joyful hearts, and as always, continued good health! Only God knows how often all your prayers have sustained us without us even knowing! Due to location, we will be updating by phone while on the island. So there will be no pictures for a while, but you can expect a bunch when we return.

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

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Good evening from Panama!

We were truly thrilled to begin drama ministry this morning. After a word from our missionary contact, Pastor Luciano, the team set out to perform the drama on Cinco de Mayo. We were able to perform the drama twice on this busy midway of shops and stores as well as at the park and plaza around it. At one drama site, a student was able to share the Gospel with a man who was struggling with depression. The man was not yet ready to receive Christ , but a seed was certainly planted. Now we pray to the God who brings the harvest that He would save that man. As this student parted ways, he prayed for the man. Though he did not trust in Christ today, the man stopped our student before he left and said, “When you pray, I feel the hand of God. You bring the hand of God.” And we are certainly praying that the hand of God will be on that man, to lead him to repentance and to trust in Christ.

At another site, we had a student share the Gospel with a man passing by. With tears in his eyes, the man turned from his past sin and trusted in Jesus. As the student asked the man more about himself, we came to find out that the man rarely ever ventures into the city. What are the odds that a man who seldom visits the city would be there the day that a group of students from the United States would be sharing the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ? With God at work, we know the odds are 100%.

We appreciate your prayers! We could not do ministry here without them! Please continue to be in prayer for strength, continued good health, and enthusiasm in sharing the gospel and performing the drama.

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

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Hello all!

After a long day of traveling, we have made it to the White House in Panama! We had a few delays along the way, but God is good. We even had the opportunity to share our faith with a Hindu man on the plane! The students are tired but excited to start ministry here in Panama. Due to the delays, the students are getting much-needed rest, and they will call home tomorrow. Please pray for a restful night’s sleep so that we can be fully energized and ready to start Jesus Ministry tomorrow!

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

Today, our students had one final day of drama training. After working on the drama all day, we are all excited to get to the mission field. We finished off our few days of training with a final teaching and a commissioning service. The students were able to gather around the other teams, and lift them up to our Father as they head to Ethiopia, Peru, and Panama (14-day). What a privilege it is to go and make Him known among all nations! We will embark from Dallas very early tomorrow morning and spend the entire day traveling to Panama City. Your students will call you as soon as possible, so be expecting a call late tomorrow night. Please be praying safe travels, ministry opportunities even as we travel to Panama, and that each of us would readily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him as He leads us into His ministry. We are thankful for your prayers and leave with eager and expectant hearts.

Your Country Coordinators,

Craig Jackson & Karissa Pieper

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